Welterweight world needs Mayweather encore
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
An open letter to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Hey Money, how's it going?
How's retirement working out? You staying busy?
I hope the summer in Michigan is treating you better than the winter will be in a couple months.
OK, listen champ, as much as I'd like for this to be just a "Hey, let's catch up and talk about old times" letter, I've got something a little more important to address.
It's a little after midnight on Saturday and I'm not sure if you were watching, but the last 90 minutes or so have been kind of rough. Some kid named Margarito, big guy, from Tijuana I think, just won a PPV fight in Las Vegas and is now parading around calling himself "welterweight champion."
A comeback by Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be welcomed by many.
He's smiling and flexing for the cameras, calling out requisite names like Williams and De La Hoya, and acting as if he legitimately believes he's the best the world's got to offer in a ring at 147 pounds. And naturally, the folks at HBO -- yeah, them again -- are singing his song louder than anyone else.
Now I know what you're thinking, champ. You're retired. You whipped everyone they put in front of you. You've got nothing to prove to anyone. And trust me, I agree with you. To me, you're clearly the best of this generation and among the best of any before it. No questions asked.
But even with all that, it's still a little troubling to watch.
Because the more he marches around saying he's the best, and the more the cable apologists smile and parrot it back -- just like they did all that "most avoided fighter in the world" baloney beforehand -- the more the unsophisticated, "I get my opinions from ESPN" fan is going to believe it.
Perceptions have a way of becoming reality, especially with the short- attention span set. And if he follows up with a win over Oscar this winter, it'll be driven that much deeper. But there's one way we can head it off at the pass, champ. And that's really why I'm writing you.
I want you to come back. I want you to call out Margarito. Most of all, I want you to beat him.
It's not because he's a bad guy or anything. Heck, he seems decent enough. He was classy and professional during the run-up to Saturday's fight. He surely works hard and gets himself into peak shape. And he's definitely been entertaining to watch whenever I've seen him fight.
He beat an elite fighter in Cotto on Saturday. I thought Miguel was beating him cleanly, but he got to him and made him quit. He earned my respect by pulling off something I didn't think he was capable of and he'll surely be a tough mountain for you to climb, maybe the toughest you've ever considered. But there's a big gap between flavor of the month (him) and all-time great (you).
And you're the only one who can prove it.
I know what you're thinking, champ. In a perfect world, where analysts gave due to guys who'd earned it, your status would be secure. But we both know it's not. And as long as he wears your crown, the naysayers will take their shots and claim you protected assets by walking away when you did.
They'll say you reveled in the easy fights. They'll allege you ducked the hard ones. They'll insist the dominance you showed while racking up titles was more a product of limited challengers than it was the sheer brilliance of a premier champion. It'll tarnish your legacy. And as it does, it'll piss me off.
So as much as anything, champ, I'm asking for this as a favor.
Go through the training camp torture just one more time. Hit the pads. Run the hills. Rob yourself of sleep by heading to the gym for 3 a.m. workouts. Channel everything that got you through the first 39 times and put it all together for one last anti-hero star turn under the Las Vegas lights.
Then go out there for 36 minutes and show one last time what you and I already know.
Tornados come and go. Greatness lasts forever.
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides "In The Ring" commentary for Speeding Bullet Network (speedingbulletnetwork.com), is a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.